Breast Cancer Diagnosis
In 1996, I felt a lump in my breast, so I consulted a general doctor who operated on it and sent it for biopsy. The biopsy reports came normal, which was a sigh of relief.
Four months went well, but then I started having pain at the same place. We went to the doctor, and he said it was nothing major, it may reappear many times, and he then removed it again. I had the biopsy done, and it was again negative.
In November, it started to pain again, so I consulted a doctor who asked me for FNAC, which came positive. I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and it came as a big shock for us. I didn't sleep for the whole night and cried a lot.
I had two daughters and a son who was just eight years old at that time. Back then, there was no awareness about cancer; everyone used to think that it is incurable. But somehow, I gathered my strength and decided to proceed with the treatment.
Breast Cancer Treatment
I had an uncle who had been a cancer patient, so I discussed everything with him, and he suggested me to visit an oncologist. We consulted the doctor who repeated my FNAC and asked for the previous samples. He analyzed those samples and informed us that they were positive. The false laboratory reports had wasted our six months. He said that I have to undergo a mastectomy. At that time, mastectomy was a huge thing, but we had no other option.
There was no such need for chemotherapy, but for being on the safer side, the doctor advised us to go for six chemotherapy cycles. There was no awareness of prostheses or bras for mastectomy patients. After trying many different things, we got to know that there was a small shop in a local market that manufactured custom-made foam-based brassieres. I got fitting undergarments from there, and it was a great sigh of relief for me.
While taking chemotherapy, I connected with the members of the Indian Cancer Society, who also asked me to join them after my treatment. Thankfully, my chemotherapy felt very light, and I did not lose much of my hair, but the significant side effect in my case was vomiting. There was no one to guide me for a proper diet or a healthy lifestyle. My family, kids, and husband supported me a lot. No one made me realize that I had breast cancer and that I was undergoing a cancer journey.
I took six months gap after my chemotherapy sessions and later joined the Indian Cancer Society. I used to visit hospitals every Monday and helped them by providing moral support, brassieres, and prostheses.
I was on a medicine named Nolvadex. I had to go for my follow-ups every month, but later, the time got expanded. During one of those follow-ups, I found that the breast cancer had relapsed, and it was in the other breast now. I underwent a lumpectomy, chemotherapy sessions, and radiation therapy. This time, I lost my hair, which was morally very devastating for me. I did not want my children to see me without hair, so I decided to settle for a wig.
Life was going well, and I was just on medications. But a few years later, my eldest daughter, who was expecting her first baby, found a knot in her breast, which the doctors waived off as a milk gland enlargement. They said it would subside once she delivers and start feeding the baby. But, even then,it did not reduce, and she complained of pain in her breast. The doctors asked for MRI and mammography, and soon after, she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Her baby was just 40 days old, and she was very depressed by her diagnosis. She underwent chemotherapy, and the lump gradually subsided. It has been three years now, and she is healthy now. She has to undergo a PET scan every six months and is currently taking Xeloda.
I still go to hospitals and counsel and guide cancer patients. I do not want anyone to suffer from what I had suffered. I guide patients about nutrition and prostheses. I motivate them to be happy because I believe that When you think positive, your body develops more healthy cells.
Acceptance is the key. It takes courage to accept, but once you accept the situation, you are already halfway done. Be happy and positive because now we have more awareness and advanced treatments to treat cancer better.